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February 11, 2020 Beyond The Dash

January 2020: Our 4 Favorite Obituaries

A monthly roundup of inspirational obituaries honoring regular Joes and Janes

January 2020: Our 4 Favorite Obituaries
Thousands of obituaries are published every week. Today we commemorate a selection of life stories that caught our eye. (Shutterstock)

This year, Beyond the Dash is curating a monthly selection of obituaries to highlight special life stories. In no particular order, these were our favorite life stories in the month of January. 

1. Ken Fuson

Ken's obituary made national headlines in January, when his self-penned obituary went viral. The late reporter for The Des Moines Register put his writing talents to use a final time, writing an incredibly raw and honest portrait of himself. 

The tongue-in-cheek obit highlights Ken's chief accomplishments as a journalist, going so far as to admit that he did not graduate from university because he was off chasing a scoop. Ken doesn't hesitate to call out his own struggles in life, admitting he "suffered from a compulsive gambling addiction that nearly destroyed him." Ultimately, Ken Fuson triumphed over his addiction, gaining support through his church community.

This is the story of someone who has faced his demons, loved his sons, and found a place in a Christian community that welcomed him with open arms. 

Read Ken Fuson's uplifting life story here.

2. Jessika Guptill 

Bangor Daily News published the short-but-sweet story of a woman who passed away "after a stoic battle with cancer." She was a farm owner, mother and lover of "all things lemon."

Reminiscent of pastoral traditions, her obituary tells of "meandering the fields with her cows and sheep, teaching her family the tricks of her trade and about the beauty and mysteries of nature." Her story is simple, but paints a vivid picture of a happy life filled with love and adventure. 

Read about the life of Jessika Guptill here.

3. Zachary Reaves

Loving husband and father of five Zachary Reaves passed away early in January 2020, but his family gave him a beautiful final tribute. 

Perhaps most striking about this story is the photo of Zachary, who was 30 years old at the time of his passing. He is so young to be numbered among the dead. His story highlights his time giving back to the community by coaching children's baseball and football. He's also remembered as a father who eagerly participated in his children's lives, and loving his family:

"He was known for greeting relatives with hugs no matter where he encountered them. He always included an "I love you" when saying goodbye."

Read Zachary Reaves' life story here.

4. Annie Abbass

The family of Annie Abbass created a formidable obituary in honor of an extraordinary woman. The image selected for her final life story is arrestingly beautiful. The story describes the grandmother of 12 as an "avid, daily walker" and "beautiful, soprano voice." 

"She was certainly a driving force behind her children’s successes and achievements. Her own discipline and pursuit of excellence were always an inspiration to us whether it was in the home, including her incomparable Lebanese cooking, or outside in achieving a Life Master in contract bridge in 1994."

Both story and image show a woman who was well loved by her descendants and her community. Annie's faith, work within the church and commitment to her family stand out in this powerful tribute. 

See Annie Abbass' incredible life story for yourself here.

Monthly wrap-up

Approximately 4.5 million people die each month globally. Of those, thousands are memorialized in written tributes. Whether the family publishes in the newspaper, online, or in a more private manner, these stories make up our collective history.

Each month, Beyond the Dash features touching obituaries of regular people who lived remarkable lives. If you see a noteworthy obituary, keep us in the loop! Email us a link to the story at, and we might just feature it in our monthly spotlight. 

Your loved one had a remarkable life. Tell their story, and we’ll publish it online for free.

After creating an online memorial, you can also publish in print in any of over 6,000 newspapers across North America.

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